We tested and reviewed over 40 different wood routers, and compiled a list of our 10 favorites below for you to read.
The units featured below have made their way onto our list based on their speed, affordability, power, transportability, and overall value offering.
We’ve also made sure that there is something on the list for everyone. Whether you’re a buyer looking for a tool that can deliver craftsperson-quality work, or you need to get something low-priced, you will find a great wood router on this list.
|Bosch 1617EVSPK Woodworking Router Combo Kit|
|DEWALT DWP611PK Variable Speed Router Combo Kit|
|Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP|
|Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Precision Plunge Router||1 year||4.40/5|
|PORTER-CABLE 690LR 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router||3 years||4.30/5|
The Bosch 1617EVSPK is a moderately sized router with an impressive 12-amp motor capable of bringing tons of power to whatever job you throw at it.
The versatile tool can do plunge cuts, edge forming, slot cutting, and even laminate trimming. In other words, it will be more than capable of handling almost any routing task.
We really like how user-friendly the machine is. The controls allow you to run it at a constant speed, so you can focus on the job at hand instead of on holding down an activation trigger.
It’s also incredibly well-built. The base is made with a high-quality aluminum that ensures it will be relatively lightweight, while also being able to withstand the wear and tear of the job site.
Granted, it is an expensive tool. Like most Bosch products, if you want to take this router home, you’ll need to be willing to fork over some serious dough.
The DeWalt DWP611PK is a more moderately priced, compact router that’s good for users with limited space who need to be able to complete smaller jobs quickly.
Thanks to a variable speed trigger, this router can be used on a variety of different jobs. It varies in speed from 16,000 to 27,000 RPM.
It also includes two separate LED lights that are mounted near the base of the tool. The lights are good for jobs in tighter, poorly lit environments.
It does get hot very quickly. At full power, it can get so hot that it is even physically uncomfortable to hold. Overheating is a concern for the tool’s overall life expectancy as well. Motors can be damaged by excessive heat, which is obviously not what you want.
The Makita RT0701CX7 is a slim, ergonomic tool that is as effective as it is affordable. If you’re a buyer on a budget, you’ll want to pay special attention to this one.
The Makita has a slow start component that allows you to ease into the full power of the tool. The speed is also monitored electrically to be as consistent and reliable as possible.
It’s worth mentioning that this tool vibrates excessively. The extra vibration can be irritating in short bursts, and even painful over an extended period of time. For smaller jobs, though, it may not be a huge problem. However, all in all, this is still one of the best wood routers for the money, and one of the best wood router choices for the beginner.
User-friendliness is one of the best features of the Triton TRA001. It only has three buttons, which makes it easy enough that even tool novices won’t have any trouble using it. It’s also easy to maintain and can be adjusted using a single wrench that you probably already have on hand.
The cleverly placed vents keep the tool from overheating while also ensuring that dust won’t have access to sensitive electrical components.
For a compact router, this is a fairly pricey tool. There also seem to be some concerns with the electrical components of the Triton. Some users report that the controls stopped working after several months of use. Of course, it’s difficult to say how common this glitch is.
The PORTER-CABLE 690LR is a powerful full-sized router that will be great for handling bigger jobs. It’s a great budget option that’s an affordable way to get a powerful tool. The 11-amp motor is able to produce up to 27,500 revolutions per minute, so you can work well even with harder materials.
It’s also dust-sealed, so its electrical components should be fine even when it’s used regularly.
It’s not as nuanced as some of the other options on our list. It produces a ton of vibration, and it’s also fairly noisy to operate. These factors aren’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but they can become unpleasant over time.
The Avid Power 11-Amp 2 HP Fixed-Base Wood Router is one of the most affordable options on our list. It generates plenty of power and features a durable aluminum housing to protect the motor as you go about your work.
The rubber-coated handles are designed with comfort in mind, and it even comes with a soft carrying case that will make it comfortable and easy to transport.
We aren’t so crazy about the bit chuck. Bits become loose very easily, so you’ll frequently need to stop working to tighten them. The tool is also very noisy, and it produces excessive vibration.
The Ridgid R2401 is an affordable router that operates via a power cord. It’s compact and features a refined adjustment dial that allows you to customize the depth of your cuts. The quick release lever allows you to remove bits from the tool easily.
The build does leave something to be desired. The bit housing is solid—a lightweight aluminum that is tough and durable. However, the rest of the tool is made of cheap plastic that feels as though it will break very easily.
The body of the tool also lets in lots of dust, so if you aren’t careful, you may wind up damaging the sensitive electric elements.
The TACKLIFE Plunge and Fixed Base Router is an affordable variable speed tool with six different stop points. The speeds range between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM. It also comes with several different wrenches that are optimized for adjusting it and adding and removing bits.
There are some major issues. For one thing, the bits are really hard to change, even with the tools. They also tend to get stuck in the chuck, which can lead to lots of wasted time.
Adjusting the depth of the cuts is also a problem. The stop points are very imprecise, so it can be hard to make sure that the tool is set the way you need it.
The palm-sized Enertwist 1-1/4 HP Compact Palm Router Tool is able to maintain a constant speed in order to deliver clean cuts. It’s adjustable and boasts six different speed settings that range between 10,000 and 32,000 RPMs.
This affordable tool also starts gradually, to help avoid the injuries that can occur when a router starts immediately on full power mode.
Unfortunately, the Enertwist is pretty lacking in terms of power. The 1 1/4th horsepower doesn’t get you very much. You won’t be able to work with tough materials, and the cuts sometimes turn out fairly ugly. The tool is also very noisy and can get overheated quickly.
The Goplus Electric Plunge Router looks really great on the surface. It’s extremely affordable, it’s relatively powerful, and it has multiple different speeds ranging between 16,000 and 30,000 RPM. It even includes the gradual start feature that we appreciated in many of the better options on our list.
However, it just doesn’t work as well in application as it does in theory. The plastic casing is very fragile, the tool overheats easily, and the electrical components are very sensitive to dust. It also vibrates excessively, which can make it very uncomfortable to use and even difficult to control.
Below you will find some considerations that will help you make sense of your options. Read on for a guide that will hopefully simplify your ultimate buying decision!
Routers come in all different shapes and sizes. There are palm routers, sized (you guessed it) to fit within the palm of your hand. These tools are optimized for smaller tasks. They’re easy to transport and store, but of course, they don’t do much good for big jobs.
Compact routers may feature power levels comparable to that of the full-sized variety, but in an easier- to-transport package.
Full-sized routers are most likely going to spend the majority of their time in your shop, but they are reliable equipment that will be great for volume work.
The type of tool you decide on will depend both on the needs of your job and your storage limitations.
Ergonomic tools are specifically made for the human hand. Not only are they designed to be comfortable, but they’re also specifically optimized to help prevent long-term injury. Poorly designed tools can cause muscle tension that results in inflammation, and eventually in chronic, painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. You don’t want that. An ergonomic design concept will help ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Power tools naturally kick up lots of dust. When they do, the refuse settles primarily in two places: your workshop, and your lungs.
In the workshop setting, the problem is obvious. After a work session, there is almost always a big, tedious mess to clean up.
The damage that sawdust does to your lungs is subtler and far more sinister. In fact, sawdust is a notorious carcinogen that can have fatal consequences when left unchecked.
The solution is simple: a dust collection system. Make sure the tool you invest in features a port where you can connect a dust collection system such as a shop vac.
Most modern tools from big-brand companies run on brushless motors. Brushless motors usually run quietly, and they also usually last a lot longer. It’s well worth it to make sure the router you buy has this feature.
Some routers feature tool-free chuck changes. These tools are nice because they can be easily maintained and altered in a matter of seconds.
If the router you decide on doesn’t have this feature, it’s at least worthwhile to find out how the bits are changed. Some routers require special wrenches, while others can be maintained with tools that you’re likely to already have on hand.
The more adjustable your router is, the more precisely you’ll be able to do your work. Routers that feature dials with many depth stops are usually pricier, but they’re also able to handle a wider range of jobs.
Our other wood router types we have reviewed:
You can find both corded and cordless wood routers. Both have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Corded units can run as long as you’re near an outlet. However, they are also less portable than cordless options.
Battery-powered routers can be taken anywhere, but are only able to run for a limited amount of time. They’re also generally heavier than corded units because of the cumbersome battery pack. If you take your equipment on the go a lot, the battery-powered router is probably going to be the tool for you. However, if this tool’s destined to spend most of its time in your workshop, a corded router will treat you just fine.
Some routers have a variable speed component. With these routers, you’ll be able to take a more customized approach to each job. A variable speed element is especially handy if you’re working with remarkably hard or softwoods.
Users have mixed feelings about the industry movement towards attaching LED lights to every tool you can think of. The benefits are obvious. If you’re working in tight, poorly lit environments, lights will help you improve the quality of your work.
On the other hand, most of the time, they aren’t really necessary. Most people are using routers from the comfort of a shop where lighting is (at least hopefully) not a problem.
You can decide for yourself how you feel about LED lights on a wood router, but consider that they can be useful, and they never really get in the way of anything.
It’s always handy to buy tools with a slow start component. This just means that the full force of the tool isn’t activated the moment you flip the switch on. It’s a safety feature that helps you slowly orient yourself to the power of the tool.
It’s especially handy if small children are living in your house. Obviously, it’s best to keep them away from your tools whenever possible. However, if they do somehow come to interact with equipment in your shop, slow start features may be enough to prevent injury.
Electric brakes allow you to stop your router on a dime. It’s a good feature to have if you want to maximize efficiency. This way, the tool is only in motion when you activate it.
It’s also a great safety feature for that same reason. If you need to stop the tool immediately to avoid an accident, you’ll be able to do so.
Our wood router reviews have proven at least one thing: there are plenty of outstanding tools on the market. If your focus is on getting a professional quality option regardless of cost, our top choice, the Bosch 1617EVSPK Woodworking Router Combo Kit, is going to be right for you.
Even budget buyers can find something awesome. If you’re trying to save money while still getting a reliable tool, you’ll like our best for the money pick, the Makita RT0701CX7.
Then again, this list is supersaturated with awesome choices, so there really isn’t any going wrong!
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!